Search engine retention periods

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04 April 2008

Following explanations given by search engine providers, the EC Working Party announced that it sees no basis for a retention period beyond 6 months for personal data processed by search engines. If personal data are stored, the retention period should be no longer than necessary for the specific purposes of the processing. 

Any continued storage beyond this needs adequate justification. An individual's search history is personal data if the individual to which is identifiable. Though IP addresses are not usually directly identifiable by search engines, identification can be achieved by a third partys. Some search engines currently seem to retain data indefinitely,  which is prohibited. The EC rules apply even when company headquarters are outside of the EEA.

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